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different ways and both spellings were incorrect. this happened sir interest in the original story and the old story went viral. an author who calls herself a terrible proofreader called the times today and they issued a correction. that's it for "the lead." i'll turn you over to wolf blitzer. mr. blitzer? >> jake, thank you very much. crisis in ukraine. a dangerous standoff. warning shots fired as tensions rise between russia and ukrainian troops in crimea. secretary of state john kerry visits the place were demonstrators were gunned down in kiev offering moral support and economic help. vladimir putin denies
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military intervention and a former secretary of state is calling him, quote, delusional. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." russian forces are tightening their hold on the strategic crimean peninsula and there's a verbal battle escalating between the united states and russia. it's a critical moment. here are the latest development. secretary of state john kerry visits ukraine's capital and offers encouragement and a billion dollar u.s. loan guarantee while accusing russia of inventing reasons for its military intervention. president obama says the u.s. and its allies strongly believe russia has violated international law and says russia has not fooled anybody. as russia is digging ins it heels, has the right to take all
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measures there. cnn's barbara starr is standing by at the pentagon and anderson cooper is in kiev. let's bring in with our national security correspondent jim sciutto. jim? >> wolf, officials are attempting to de-escalate the crisis and avoiding any moves that may further inflame the situation. does russia expand its military intervention or does it pull back? on the ground in ukraine, there's a volatile mix of armed forces and emotions, which we saw flair up today. today in crimea, russian and ukrainian forces in a dramatic and dangerous standoff. weapons drawn and here a threat to open fire. >> i said stop! i'm serious. i'll shoot at your legs.
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>> reporter: and as secretary of state john kerry arrived in the ukrainian capital of kiev, a war of words. russian president vladimir putin and secretary kerry trading die metric clee opposed views of the crisis. back and forth. >> translator: the acting president, of course, is not legitimate. >> the elected representatives of the people of ukraine, they overwhelmingly approve the new government. >> reporter: and back and forth. >> translator: citizens of ukraine, both russian and ukrainian, what worries them? they are worried about unlawfulness. >> there has been no surge in crime no, surge in looting, no political retribution. >> reporter: despite the tensions on the ground today, u.s. officials are focused on de-escalating the crisis. the west is offering a diplomatic offramp for russia, offering to bring its concerns about the makeup of the new government and other international bodies.
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today, president obama said president putin may be listening. >> there have been some reports that president putin is listening. >> thousands of russian troops deployed in ukraine, the fundamental position remains the same. >> it is not appropriate to invade a country that is not 21st century g-8 major nation behavior. >> you heard president obama refer to a possible pause in russian military intervention in ukraine. so what did he mean by that? when i asked the officials, i pointed my attention to this quote from vladimir putin today. he said, "regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed forces, so far there is no
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need for it. such a measure would be the very last resort." now, russia has already deployed troops in crimea, the pause they are talking about is he hasn't gone further. he hasn't sent them further out of their bases and they are looking at that as a positive sign. >> let's hope that's a positive sign. jim sciutto will be back. as tensions rise in ukraine, u.s. officials are confirming russia has test fired ann ter couldn't nen sal missile. what do we know about this, barbara starr? >> officials are telling us that the russians in fact notified it to the u.s. before this escalation of tensions with the ukraine. that the u.s. knew it was coming and they even had as much as a four-hour window when they were told that russia would conduct the test and that's exactly what happened, all with the parameters of the s.t.a.r.t. treaty on arms reduction. it doesn't mean that the tensions are not rising right
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now and people aren't concerned, but this missile test is something that the u.s. knew was coming. wolf? >> i know you've been doing some reporting with your sources. what are you learning about the latest u.s. thinking on where this crisis in ukraine is heading in the immediate future? >> well, vladimir putin will make that crucial decision that the world is waiting for. does he expand his military operations more in crimea? does he go into eastern ukraine in one of the things that the u.s. is watching so closely now, the 150,000 or so troops that were conducting the exercises on the border with ukraine. the exercises largely over the troops and their weapons have not returned fully to their barracks so that is one of the key indicators. when putin sends them back to their bases, that could be the best signal yet. they think putin will make the decision in the coming days.
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wolf? >> let's hope he makes the right decision. barbara, let's go to kiev where anderson cooper is on the scene for us. ukrainian officials say thousands of russian troops are already on the ground so how were his words received in the capital of kiev where you are? >> reporter: well, i think i talked to a former defense minister and others today and people would find it laughable if it weren't so deadly serious that russian forces have not already intervened in crimea. obviously there is huge concern about russian forces extending into eastern ukraine, which we have not seen, thankfully. but there's nobody here that you talk to in kiev who believes that the forces were seeing on the ground in crimea, as our own people have been reporting and others have been reporting, are not russian forces. the idea that there are
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self-defense militias simply -- it defies credibility. >> and you know, the other part of the news conference, anderson, president putin described the overall situation in ukraine as an unconstitutional coo. do ukrainians that you've been talking to see this escalating in the next few days? >> reporter: you know, there's certainly a lot of concern about that and i think they are watching it very, very closely. i think it's certainly the fact that vladimir putin has not sent forces into eastern ukraine they would see as a positive sign but this cannot end quickly enough for the interim government here, which is a shaky government at best. this is the last thing they need a conflict -- a military conflict with russia. they have been working very hard to try not to antagonize russia by doing anything that the troops on the ground in ukraine
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have been very careful in interactions with the russian forces on the ground. so there is certainly a lot of concern about this escalating and it's obviously being watched very, very closely. wolf? >> anderson, thanks very much. a lot more reporting live from ukraine later tonight on "ac 360" at 8:00 p.m. eastern. the stakes are incredibly high right now for the united states and its european allies. will nato be drawn into the conflict? i'll ask a former u.s. undersecretary of state nick burns. he's standing by live. and russia's vladimir putin is opposed to military interventions unless russia is doing the intervening. we're going to take a look at putin's double standard.
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the crisis in ukraine poses an extraordinary challenge to america and its allies and puts pressure on president obama right now. joining us once again, our chief national correspondent jim sciutto and nick burns, former u.s. ambassador to nato, now at the harvard university kennedy's school of government. you wrote this in "the new york times" on sunday, nick. let me put it up on the screen. referring to what is going on right now. "it's the most important, most difficult foreign policy test of his presidency, referring to president obama. the stakes are very high for the president because he is the nato leader. there's no one in europe who can approach him in power. he is going to have to lead." what does he need to do, nick? >> well, wolf, i think that is
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objectively true. i think the president has got to rally the nato alliance to reaffirm the existing of the existing allies. there ought to be a nato summit where we reaffirm the collective defense of those east european allie allie allies. poland, putin needs to know that the security of those countries is strong and ever lasting. that's a message that the president of the united states is capable of gifgs giving. you saw that secretary of state kerry offered $1 billion in loan guarantees. kathy ashton, the senior foreign policy of the european union will be there top. we should see an equal or perhaps even bigger package by the eu.
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>> i'm not hearing you talk about sanctions because, as you know, the europeans, especially the germans, there's a split between them and the u.s. >> well, actually, that was a third thing that i was going to mention, wolf. obviously, as president obama has said correctly, there's got to be a cost for violating the integrity of another country for taking over the territory of that country. the united states is talking about maybe russia from the g-8. part of europe is with us, wolf. i think the british are. i think the french are. certainly the east europeans but germany has very different views. i think they'd rather talk to the russians, maybe be a mediator of sorts and that weaken's the western's response
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to putin. >> jim sciutto, crimea we've highlighted it a different color. this is a sovereign part of ukraine. it seems at least for now, if in fact as you reported earlier u.s. officials believe putin may be pausing in his next steps, maybe it's because he's achieved a strategic -- he's got control of crimea for all pact cal purposes? >> it's possible he's at his end game which is to demonstrate this crimea, which has sevastopol right here, russia's only warm water port, access to the black sea on to the mediterranean, he's established this is a key national security interest. that's the first place he sent his troops to surround that base and to protect that area. ea ea ea easy fek tifl made that
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statement. i was going to ask ambassador burns, if i can, because he referenced strengthening the alliance in nato. nick, i know you know the map well but we have the advantage of one in front of us. you mentioned the nato allies and here along ukraine's border you have poland and yugoslavia. could you envision the u.s., for instance, sending military exercises? would that be too provocative or would that be the kind of signal necessary to show american's commitment to the alliance? >> first, i think president obama has made the right decision. it's the same decision bush made in 2008 when russia invaded georgia. the united states and nato are not going to use our military as a way to try to counter putin. it does not make sense and is catastrophic in the nuclear age. so the correct strategy is a political/economic strategy. there are some things that we
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can do militarily in the baltic states. we could increase that on the border of russia to make the statement that the sovereign nato area, if you will, and you remember the administration might want to go back to that to show the russians that we do mean business to protect our existing allies. but i don't think the administration either in the black sea or just on the ukrainian border would want to do anything that would possibly, could possibly lead to miscalculation or a mistake. it's just too dangerous of a situation. we're better off trying to isolate putin, drive up the costs to him economically and shine a big international spotlight on his blatant violation of international law. >> the statements coming out of nato, the general secretary of nato, you were a former u.n. bam
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ba ambassador to nato. i don't really see any military role and i certainly don't see any united nations' security council role. so are these two elements, nato and the u.n. security council, really relevant right now? >> well, the security council, wolf, as you say correctly, it can't be effective because the russians would veto anything that is not in their interest. nato is important because putin does need to realize they can strengthen that alliance to protect the current members. >> but there's no real military -- nato military option. the nato allies are not going to send troops into crimea or into ukraine? >> no. no. none whatsoever. and i think, again, president obama has made the right decision here. we do not have a formal, as you know, security obligation to ukraine and it doesn't make sense to add fuel to the fire
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here. we have to be the more mature party. the nato countries looking at the reckless aggressive behavior of putin and we've got to be smarter in using our economic and political leverage against them. so that's what the response is going to be, wolf, it's not going to be military. but the key here is that we have to be unified particularly between chancellor merkel of germany and president obama and it does look like washington and berlin are on different wave lengths and we've got to narrow those differences. >> nick burns, as usual. thanks very much. jim sciutto, don't go too far away. does vladimir putin have a double standard? we're going to take a look. plus, the formter secretary of state says that putin is, quote, delusional. you're watching a special report right here in "the situation room." ♪
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russian president vladimir
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putin does not like invasions in other countries, except when it's russia doing the intervening. putin says russia has every write to send troops into ukraine. brian todd has been looking into a lot of people seeing a double standard. what are you seeing? >> wolf, it was a few months ago that vladimir putin in an op-ed famously wagged his finger at the u.s. for strikes on syria. he said, you've intervened way too much in other country's conflicts with your military. strange how things come around. russian soldiers surrounding ukrainian bases, firing warning shots over ukrainian troops. this is the kind of intervention vladimir putin said one shouldn't carry out on another without the u.s.' blessing. last year when the u.s. was on the verge of striking syria for its use of chemical weapons, putin wrote an article in "the
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new york times." he said decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus. we need to use the united security council. the u.n. security council was not part of his process. >> what is happenings today is a dangerous military intervention in ukraine. it's an act of aggression. >> reporter: also, putin blasted the invasion of iraq and afghanistan, its military intervention in libya. he said it's alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become common places for the united states. now 5 1/2 years after putin invaded georgia, there's this statement from putin's office on ukraine. >> the acting president, of course, is not legitimate. the only legitimate president is yanukovych. >> reporter: that refers to a deal to end the violent protests a couple of weeks ago which also called for viktor yanukovych to remain in power.
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putin says the opposition reneged on the deal, chased yanukovych out. the problem with that -- >> putin is using the fact that all of these people signed the agreement even though the russians refused to sign it in the end. >> reporter: while some call putin hypocritical, american leaders could be vulnerable as well. >> russia has been working hard to create a pretext for being able to invade further. >> i mean, when we criticize putin and talk about he can't use these pretext, putin just pulls back again to some of the mistakes that we've made in the past. weapons of mass destruction in iraq is a personal favorite of president putin. >> fiona hill says putin doesn't have any problem being seen as hypocritical and will use any argument when it suits him, unlike other politicians that will never hear the end of it if they are called out for being critical. >> putin in the news conference
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today said if -- it hasn't happened yet, if he were to deploy russian troops into ukraine, that would be okay with international law. >> that's right. he's throwing international law around a lot in the last few days and he's violating a 1994 treatment that he signed. president obama said he seems to have a different set of lawyers interpreting and could be violating international law. >> ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for that kind of a commitment. >> right. >> let's go to kiev where a former cnn correspondent in moscow, bureau chief jill dougherty is joining us. she's now with harvard school of kennedy government. good to see you in a rt pa of the world that you know very, very well. this is madeleine albright, former secretary of state. she was on cnn's "new day," earlier. listen to this. >> i think it's part of a much
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longer-term plan that putin has had, which has tried to recreate some sort of a relationship between the ukraine and moscow. i think that is the tragedy that's going on. putin is, in many ways, i think delusional about this. >> you've covered putin for a long time. you know him. you did a documentary on him. is he delusional? >> reporter: i don't think he's delusional, wolf, but i do think that right now he feels that is he in the right. he is very award and angry, really, about what he perceives as the pushing of the west toward his borders. he thought ukraine was going to remain kind of in that middle camp and he could lure them into this union with russia and it didn't work out. he's angry at yanukovych and right now what he's trying to do is go after the prize and that is the crimea where the base is
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and if -- i think, wolf, if you look at it in terms of nato, what he feels is you pull crimea away, keep it in the russian camp and damage ukraine's chance to actually become part of nato, it's a dream, of course, it's not going to happen very soon, obviously. but to keep them in the damaged enough so they can't really move as quickly toward the west as they wanted to. >> a former u.s. ambassador to moscow, jill, he says that if, in fact, putin is delusional, to a certain degree, maybe it's because his advisers give them bad information or it's simply yes, men, yes, women, the media not by a large critical of what he is doing, sort of controlled. is there an element of truth there? >> you know, wolf, i think maybe there is but it's very dangerous to begin to say putin is crazy,
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therefore, you know, just don't pay any attention. he does have people in crimea, there are people in the eastern parts of ukraine who share some of these beliefs. not to mention, people in russia itself. so although the west and people in the states right now may say that this is bogus, et cetera, there are some people who share his beliefs. so i think to our peril we just write him off as crazy. >> has putin changed much over the years? >> i think he has. i think he's more conservative. i think that he feels that he's been burned by the west. i think he feels that he gave a lot right after 9/11 to the united states. you know, giving access for u.s. troops and nato troops to go into afghanistan and that the u.s. didn't give him anything in return. you could really see it today, wolf, in that news conference.
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he was feisty, he was angry, he was very critical of the united states and west. he feels that they want to move the borders right up to his border and he is not going to get into that. >> jill dougherty joining us from kiev, thank you very much. we have more breaking news we're following. we're about to speak live to a reporter on the ground in crimea for the latest on the tense standoff between russia and ukrainian troops. plus, why one republican lawmaker says the ukrainian crisis started with benghazi. there's a saying around here,
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we're getting a dramatic new firsthand look at the standoff in crimea as forces may be reaching a tipping point. take a look at this report filed by simon of vice news outside of a ukrainian military base. >> the soldiers over here are russian. they are from the base in sevastopol. the russian naval base. and they showed up here earlier this morning and tried to get into the base and the ukrainian soldiers told them that if they did, they would fire back. there's been quite a tense standoff here for the last few hours with the ukrainians behind the gate here and the russian seem to be marines all along the perimeter of the base. >> simon is joining us on the phone right now from crimea. very dramatic report. how sense is that situation, simon, right now? >> reporter: well, the situation
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is pretty different in different military bases across the peninsula because what the russians are trying to do is wait them out in a war of attrition. i think the plan is to surround as many bases as possible and try to get as many commanders of those bases to pledge allegiance, the pro russian forces in crimea. so certain bases of buckled. the air bases have been taken over but there are other bases like the one that you saw that are still holding out up until now. >> let me play another clip from your report and then we'll talk. listen to this. >> so i think these guys got their training from the guards outside of buckingham palace because they are not saying a word to anybody. [ speaking in foreign language ] yeah, they won't say anything. they are not wearing any insignia but it's pretty clear
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that they are russian. >> simon, how do you know that they are russian. >> reporter: some of their license plates had russian plates on them and then the commander negotiating with them over whether they would give up their arms or not said that they were russian and mentioned seva and youtube videos have been coming out from people who have been walking up to them and they've admitted that they are from russia in a lot of them. some reason today vladimir putin in his big interview that he gave said there weren't any russians in sevastopol, which is where they are usually stationed, which seems a little bit ridiculous because anybody who is down here can see them fanned out across the region. >> what are the forces there in crimea telling you? >> yesterday i managed to get into a naval high command, which
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is in sevastopol, the ukrainian high command. i had to climb over the wall because it was surrounded by russian soldiers and protesters who support russia who are a pretty angry mob around bases all over the mace here. and they are in a very tight spot because they are being waited out. they are having difficulty getting food in. they are not allowed to move in and out and so basically they are being worn down. >> simon, we're going to check back with you tomorrow. good reporting. thanks very, very much. let's dig deeper right now with our chief international correspondent christiane amanpour and gloria borger. you've been talking to ukrainian politicians today. how tense is this situation right now? >> well, it's tense, obviously. you saw that president putin tried to take some means to try to de-escalate saying that now is not the time to seize crimea. he said that russia was not going to do that or pour more any troops into there but he
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would reserve his right to do more if he thought so. he's been commenting on that all day. simon's reporting was truly excellent there. i mean, to suggest that there aren't russian troops, which is what putin did, when you've got cars and vehicles with russian license plates, i mean, if it wasn't so desperately serious, it would be almost comedic, almost monty python, do they have the insignia or don't they have the insignia. anyway, the ukrainian top politician who is part of the interim government met with secretary of state kerry today and told me that they have made their first contact, their first attempts to contact russian authorities, specifically in the defense ministry and other ministries. but he said that the russians haven't shown any desire or willingness yet to negotiate and try to de-escalate all of this. he also -- i asked him
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specifically about what president putin basically dismissing these new ukrainian authorities, saying that yanukovych was still the legitimate president and calling the people in kiev, as we discussed yesterday, a bunch of neo-nazis and radicals and terrorists. and this is what he told me. i want to know how you react, again, to what mr. putin said he has accused many in the new ukrainian leadership of being radicals, extremists, terrorists. today he actually said that we have nazis and neo-nazis in some parts of ukraine, including kiev. what does he mean and what is your response to that? >> we think the answer would be very simple. we invite here any international mission. we have reached the agreement and we are open for any observers to come to any part of ukraine and to be absolutely
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sure that ukraine now outside of crimea is absolutely safe. >> so this is clearly a major talking point on the russians right now. we heard the russian ambassador to the u.n. security council say it and now they are saying that they are responsible for all of this and all evidence points to the exact opposite, that there may be a few but this is by no means an indication of what is going on. >> well, that's absolutely right. you know, what was so interesting was the very strong way today that secretary kerry threw chat room verse repeated the actions that russia has taken and accusing russia of falsehoods, hiding behind as he said falsehood and aggression and intimidation and reminding everyone that the famous february 21st agreement was actually not signed on by and that actually yanukovych, far from being ousted fled and
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abandoned the country, abandoned the people and not to mention leaving scores of dead people behind. so the whole narrative in that regard coming out of russia is intensely skewed and, interestingly, to go further towards what mr. poroshenko told me about them trying with all their might to get negotiation or understanding with the russians, the ukrainian foreign minister is on his way to paris with secretary state kerry to try to talk to the russian foreign minister in paris who will meet with secretary kerry tomorrow. >> gloria, the political fallout in washington is intense. lipd s lindsey graham tweeted a while ago, it started with benghazi when you kill americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression #ukraine. listen to tim murphy of connecticut. he's responding to all of these sharp allegations from republicans criticizing the
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president. >> what makes me even more suspect of the criticism of president obama is there doesn't seem to be any real difference here between what republicans want the president to do and what he is actually doing. it's easy to just say it's obama's fault but history tells us otherwise and these political attacks mask the fortunate fact that today there is pretty solid bipartisan agreement on what to do next. >> you know, i think senator murphy is right here. you can argue for the next year over whether the president's red line on syria or the response to benghazi was the cause of all of this or whether vladimir putin would have done the same thing anyway. i mean, you can argue about that. set those arguments aside. what's going on in congress right now is that everybody is on the same page here, wolf. they all want some version -- the loan guarantees are going to get approved.
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they all want some version of these sanctions and the problem that the president has, ironically, and i can't believe i'm saying this, is not the united states congress but the problem he's got is in europe. europe is turning to the president. the injugerm mans are saying, wa minute, you don't get your natural gas from russia the way we do. so we've got the problem. the fight that could come in congress is that what some republicans are now saying, wolf, if lift all of the restrictions on sending that natural gas over to europe, some republicans are saying, we can help out that way and there could be a fight over whether we do that. >> gloria borger and christiane amanpour, good discussion, guys. thanks very much. just ahead, president obama, vladimir putin and an escalating war of words over the crisis in ukraine. we're going live to the white house for the latest.
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plus, look how putin has vexed washington for years and why some are now questioning his own sanity. [ male announcer ] this is the cat that drank the milk... [ meows ] ...and let in the dog that woke the man who drove to the control room [ woman ] driverless mode engaged. find parking space. [ woman ] parking space found. [ male announcer ] ...that secured the data that directed the turbines that powered the farm that made the milk that went to the store that reminded the man to buy the milk that was poured by the girl who loved the cat. [ meows ] the internet of everything is changing everything. cisco. tomorrow starts here.
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the russian president vladimir putin has made different impressions on u.s. leaders and american pop culture over the years. our national correspondent suzanne malveaux is here with a closer look at some of the more memorable moments. >> they're absolutely memorable. think about this -- this was almost exactly five years ago that president obama announced he would want to reestablish relations with russia. we have watched this attempt at reset time and time again.
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as president bush tried to read the intentions, then it was obama. we are learning you can't predict what putin is going to do. that certainly hasn't stopped anyone from trying. when george w. bush met vladimir putin. >> i looked the man in the eye, i found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. >> reporter: the bromance was widely panned as naive, particularly when the relationship was strained when russia offered support to syria and iran. >> reporter: will you also be meeting with the russian leader in about a week or so. what do you think of putin now that he's expressed a willingness to supply weapons to outlaw rejeeps. >> i know he understands the dangers of iran with a nuclear weapon. >> reporter: when president obama first met putin, they looked uncomfortable, an observation even obama acknowledged over the years. >> i know the press likes to focus on body language, he has
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that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom. >> reporter: nobody is bored in and out. some democrats and republicans even questioning putin's sanity for pushing the world to the brink. >> i think he likes to strut on the world stage and could have some impact psychologically. >> i think that's the tragedy that's going on. putin is in many ways delusional about this. >> reporter: trying to get a read on the former kgb agent fond of flaunting his bare chest and hunting game, can be a moving target and of course a political minefield. relations with russia once seen as a punch line. >> i can see russia from my house. >> reporter: people aren't laughing now. >> people are looking at putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. they look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates. >> reporter: could anybody predict that putin would be such
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a pain now? mitt romney did. >> a few months ago when you were asked the biggest political threat, you said russia, not al qaeda, in the 1980s, now calling for the foreign policy, because the cold war has been over for 20 years. >> i have clear eyes on this. i'm not going to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to russia or mr. putin. >> reporter: today mr. obama was careful not to attack putin personally, instead he used a legal argument for the behavior, saying putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making different interpretations, but privately senior administration officials, they are not confident, wolf, that they can predict his behavior or where his head is at. >> i remember when mitt romney said that, that russia was america's number one geostrategic foe. he really got hammered, but looking back to what he said then and what's going on right now, mitt romney may have been right. >> things have changed.
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>> suzanne, good to have you here in washington, our new national correspondent. you'll be doing a lot of reporting for us here in "the situation room." >> thank you, wolf. the rhetoric is heating up as vladimir putin breaks his silence, but president obama said the russian leaders isn't fooling anybody. plus the economic implications. our own richard quest is standing by. good job! still running in the morning? yeah. getting your vegetables every day? when i can. [ bop ] [ male announcer ] could've had a v8. two full servings of vegetables for only 50 delicious calories. i can't believe your mom has a mom cave! today i have new campbell's chunky spicy chicken quesadilla soup.
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and that their homeowners insurance protects them. [ thunder crashes ] it doesn't. stop pretending. only flood insurance covers floods. ♪ visit to learn your risk. happening now, breaking news on the crisis in ukraine. warning shots are fired in the escalating standoff. the russian and ukrainian forces stare across the barrel of a gun, while vladimir putin says he reserves the right to use force if needed. secretary of state john kerry delivers new help to ukraine. he as president obama are sharpening their warnings.
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and we're tracking all the military moves on both sides at sea, in i air and on the ground at this critical moment for the world. will putin blink? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." russian president putin defiant and defensive, breaking a silence today in the crisis in ukraine. he's facing new warnings from the u.s. and its allies to withdraw his troops and avoid a dangerous confrontation. here are some of the latest developments. putin is denying that russian forces are occupation the crimea region of ukraine, that he has the right to take all measures to protecte nick russians who live there. a senior obama administration official tells cnn that russia decline attending talks. despite the growing tension,
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russia went ahead with a planned test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile. president obama says putin's words don't match the facts on the ground in ukraine and he's warning the russian leader that he's quote, not fooling anybody. here's our senior white house correspondent jim acosta. >> reporter: wolf, the war of words between president obama and have laid mer putin escalated today. he also made it clear he doesn't trust the russian leader. visiting a school in d.c., president obama all but accused vladimir putin of lying of what he's up to in ukraine. >> i know president putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations, but i don't think that's fooling anybody. >> reporter: putin broke his silence on the crisis, insisting to reporters he had not sent russian troops into the crimea.
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>> translator: they wereself defense teams. if i make the decision to use military fort, it will be completely legitimate and correspond to the international law. >> reporter: the president said -- >> mr. putin can throw a lot of words out there, but the facts on the ground indicate that right now he's not abiding by that principle. >> reporter: the white house went further, saying it's obvious those troops in ski masks without insignias are russian. >> where we have disagreements, we are very blunt about them. this would be one. it is a fact that russian military forces have taken over ukrainian border posts. >> he thinks perhaps because he's an old kgb guy that he can lie his way out of this. >> reporter: mr. obama as ambassador to nato until last year said the u.s. and allies so flex the muscles.
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>> in my view, the next step ought to be to have reinforcements to flown into poland and the baltic states and perhaps to romanian, in order to demonstrate our commitment to their defense is real. >> reporter: so far white house officials said military options would only escalate the crisis. the focus is to squeeze russia through diplomacy, but the president's handling of putin has touched off the latest angry partisan brawl. >> so after five years of believing that somehow vladimir putin was anything but what he is, we are now paying the piper. the chickens are coming home to roost. >> reporter: putin marched into georgia in 2008, for many of my colleagues considered to be strong on foreign policy. >> reporter: the president once again met with the national security team on the situation. as for putin's claims he's just
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looking out for ethnic russians, this administration from the president on down called that nonsense as well. wolf? >> jim acosta at the white house, thank you. the secretary of state john kerry had even harsher words for russia. he spoke during an emergency visit to ukraine. our foreign affairs reporter leasa laven is joining us. >> reporter: wolf, it was a mixed message from secretary kerry. he visited the ukrainian -- and then he also met with ukraine atgovernment officials. he had -- particularly crimea, but he was absolutely brutal
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when he described how russia was taking care of business. take a listen. >> it is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of the barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve. that is not 21st century g-8 major nation behavior. >> reporter: but same, wolf, he really emphasized and couldn't emphasize enough that he, president obama, the united states does not want a confrontation, wants a deescalation with russia, wants to calm this down, get a diplomatic process going, and that's what he's going to be talking about to sergei lavrov, the russian foreign minister, when they meet tomorrow in paris. >> what about the message he was trying to send in it was also a message to the people of ukraine, right? >> reporter: absolutely, wolf. the whole day was kind of totally with symbolism.
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first, he started at the shrine of the fallen, then met with ordinary ukrainance. they told him about their story. then he met with government officials, this brand-new government, and offered u.s. support to the tune of $1 billion loan guaranty. other types of technical advice, and had these harsh words for russia, but then came to paris, new ukrainian foreign minister hitched a ride on his plane, showing the u.s. support for this nation. the ukrainian foreign minister said to us, wolf, we know we aren't as strong as russia, but when we have the international support behind us, when i'm flying possibly to meet the russian foreign minister in paris on the secretary of state's plane, that sends an important message to ukrainance that we're a strong nation, and we have the international support behind us. we don't need to shoot a gun, because we have the world's support. >> elise labbot joining up.
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the naval commander there said at least ten military bases are currently blocked by armed men. the showdown is driving home some of the deep divisions within the country itself. cnn's diana mag nay is there. >> reporter: this is where two worlds collide. on the one side an unmarked army, the russian president says they're not his men. telltale signs suggest otherwise. on the other ukrainian troops trapped in their bases. in between the two, army wives anxious to avoid war, who feel crimea's new pro-russian leader sergei aksenov has put their husbands in an impossible situation. >> translator: if they do not take the oath to the new authorities, they will be fighting. if there's a drop of blood
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spilled on either side, our husbands will be held responsible. >> reporter: relations between the two sides seem cord aial. it's us they dislike. >> are we able to talk to the ukrainian soldiers? you are clearly from russia. >> translator: they refuse to talk to you. >> reporter: so you are all taking orders from action november? [ speaking foreign language ] >> reporter: this man has come to bring food to the ukrainian soldiers. he says he wants russian forces out of crimea. in russian, he says i want to say i don't need any protection from any brother nation or anyone else on my land. we will solve our problems through talks, not fights. the food deliveries at the gate, this self-organized band of brothers, staunchly pro-russian, they hope this month's
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referendum gives them a clean break from kiev. it will mean either full aton my or we disconnect and join fully with russia, this man says. that can only be positive. only the young have no agenda. no idea their playgrounds have become an international flash point. diana magmay, cnn, ukraine. still ahead, the german chancellor suggests vladimir putin may have lost his mind. is he in touch with real yesterday? right now we'll discuss, and dramatic stand jo pro-relation forces, and it's all captured on video.
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russian all ukrainian forces engaged in a dramatic face-off at an air base in crimea. the crimean region of ukraine. the russians fired warning shots in the air and the unarmed ukrainance approach. take a listen to some of the confrontation. you can read the translation on the screen.
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we're joined now by julia yafy, the senior editor for the new republic along with jim scuitto. you speak russian, so you understood that exchange. very intense, dramatic. are we exaggerating? >> exaggerating what? >> the intensity of what's going on? >> no, no, he's threatening to shoot people in the legs. also, it's curious he's saying i'm following orders. who is he taking orders from? more of the unmarked gunmen we see strutting around? who do they answer to? >> fortunately no one was injured, but look at the intensity of their faces, what they're saying. there could have been some blood. >> i don't know, you often encounter this kind of person, be it a cop or special forces operative, for example, at protests in moscow. they can be really intense and they might not actually want to spill blood, but they're scary.
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>> jim, we're talking right now this region of crimea. we've highlighted the area, a sovereign part of the ukraine, though some -- this is a key military strategic area for the russian. >> russia's only warm-weather port. they won't necessarily have this to winter, and connected to the mediterranean. that's essential. this is -- you know, this seems to be putin's end game here, to establish and demonstrate and send a message about his interest in this area, and his control, his continued control over it. you know, you can argue that he's already reached that goal, right? regardless of what happened. he's made it clear things went too far with the government, doesn't think it's representative, and he sent his message. >> you wrote a piece and i read it, very powerful, you suggest that, as in your words, putin
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has lost it. >> there was a piece in the sunday "new york times" where peter baker reported on a conversation that angela merkel had with barack obama, in which he tried to talk sense into vladimir putin, that he was no longer in touch with reality and he was in another world, as she said. today's press conference really proved it. he has started to believe his own propaganda. >> some of the things he's saying are truly dangerous, right? in the press conference he's talking about fascists, anti-semites among the prote proteste protesters, in fact leading them. you have such a volume continue mix of history, and now you have guys with guns. you see that confrontation today. he says he's following orders, but is far away from headquarters there, and all it takes is one bad decision and the thing could spiral out of control. he got what he wanted, which is
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basically crimea, for all practice purpose, without any blood being shed. he's in control. >> it's interesting. this was not a problem before. the black sea fleet was based there, no problem. he always managed to find a way to build good relations with whoever was in power with kiev. i think it was just that when the opportunity presented itself that he went ahead and took it, because, you know, it's better not to be dependent on another country. >> could i ask you a question? one thing we've talked a lot about, how does the u.s.? how does the west demonstrate its commitment to the nato alous, poland, slovakia, hundred garde, romania, any of the baltic states. if the u.s. were to send a military signal and hold exercises. russia is holding exercises just off the eastern border. hold some exercises, how would moscow react? >> i think they might blow a gasket s i don't know what that
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might look like, but the u.s. has a big trading partner, far more business with europe, the russian elite have all their money and real estate in europe, not in the u.s., yet the mere mention of the u.s. imposing economic sanctions is driving them crazy. i mean, you have people at the highest levels of the foreign ministery of the kremlin -- >> what i've been told, putin cares the most about money. he has a lot of money. he's a russian nationalist, but he sees that fortune that he and his buddies have calebed going down the drain with the value of russian occurrence can i collapsing, that could have an impact? >> i actually don't agree. i think the economic arguments have been the least powerful. we saw it when he invaded neighboring georgia. people said, you know what? this would with be a big hit on ultimate russian stock market. it doesn't matter. he cares about his place --
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>> a nice comeback after a dramatic fall. >> but he cares most about his place in history. if he's seen as restoring a bigger russia, with bigger territory, orth done christians, i think that's more important to him. >> thanks for that. good discussion. jim scuitto is here all the time. thank you very much. just ahead, more of the economic impact of the ukraine crisis from wall street to moscow. so here's the question i just asked that we're going to get richard quest to answer it. will money make vladimir putin talk? iwe don't back down. we only know one direction: up so we're up early. up late. thinking up game-changing ideas, like this: dozens of tax free zones across new york state. move here. expand here. or start a new business here... and pay no taxes for 10 years.
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a rebound on wall street today. the dow jones industrial average gained 228 points. stock prices took a serious -- as the ukraine crisis intensified. and europe's leading markets, let's check in with cnn's richard quest. first of all, why did the -- dramatically as they did. >> the same reason they also came back so strongly. main by any sign that this crisis in ukraine will be solved peacefully. they like certainty.
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or any form of economic disruption. add into the fact we are in high frequently trading, therefore the volatility, and the movements are much greater. >> who knows what's going to happen tomorrow. there could be a roller coaster effect, but at least on this day, it seems to be -- they don't think that the sanctions in the west could impose really are going to happen? >> i think that's certainly one of the measures we can take. at the moment they were speaking with one voice on the rhetoric, but nobody's actually been forced, with the exception of john kerry to put a billion down on the table. if sanctions is next on the table and we already know the uk has maybe got worries about closing off the city of london to the russians.
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we no angela merkel has some concerns about that, because the trade flows between germany and russia both ways are huge, but so far, wolf. that test hasn't been put to the countries. they're still talking with one voight. maybe it's only that that's brought putin back from the brink. even so, i would put it this way. 200 points on the dow, it's scotch miss. it could disappear tomorrow if things turn nasty again. >> certainly could. this is a real volatile situation. richard quest, thanks very much. remember, you can always follow us on twitter. tweet me @warm frontblitzer. tweet the show @sitroom. let any step in with van jones and s.e. cupp. president obama's work is paying off he says have laid mer putin h

The Situation Room
CNN March 4, 2014 2:00pm-3:29pm PST

Traditional reporting and online resources update international news.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Russia 52, Ukraine 49, U.s. 29, Crimea 28, Nato 22, Us 15, Obama 13, Vladimir Putin 10, United States 9, Angie 9, Europe 8, John Kerry 6, Moscow 6, Jim Sciutto 5, Paris 5, Poland 4, Washington 4, Syria 4, Sevastopol 4, Nick Burns 3
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